Overall Rating Gold - expired
Overall Score 77.56
Liaison Ruairi O'Mahony
Submission Date Feb. 15, 2019
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

University of Massachusetts Lowell
AC-8: Campus as a Living Laboratory

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 4.00 / 4.00 Ruairi O'Mahony
Executive Director
Rist Institute for Sustainability and Energy
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Is the institution utilizing its campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in relation to Air & Climate?:
Yes

A brief description of the student/faculty projects and how they contribute to understanding campus sustainability challenges or advancing sustainability on campus in relation to Air & Climate:

Students and faculty work together on activities and projects for the Climate Change Initiative.
Students employed within the Facilities Department and Office of Sustainability assist in the measurement and verification process for Greenhouse Gas reduction projects and also frequently work to track actual annual energy savings and Greenhouse Gas emission reductions.
Members of the Student Society for Sustainability work to educate their peers on campus in the need to engage in reducing their carbon footprint through meaningful community volunteer work, impactful lecture series and engagement with university leadership.
Students also participate in the S.E.E.D. (Sustainability Engagement and Enrichment Development) grant program, proposing and implementing campus sustainability projects.
Using repurposed media, an interdisciplinary group from education, art, and the sustainability committee engage the UMass Lowell community with climate change science and showcase UMass Lowell’s current sustainability efforts by using eight eye-catching, 8½ feet ostrich-shaped art displays with the message to “get heads out of the sand” about climate change.

The primary purpose of the project is to increase awareness of UMass Lowell’s sustainability efforts while teaching the university community about climate change. The campaign will provide opportunities to promote UMass Lowell’s sustainable practices in the press and through social media. In addition, this project will allow educational researchers to determine the effectiveness of using Out of Home art displays for informal educational purposes.


Is the institution utilizing its campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in relation to Buildings?:
Yes

A brief description of the student/faculty projects and how they contribute to understanding campus sustainability challenges or advancing sustainability on campus in relation to Buildings:

Student interns work with the campus Energy Manager in the Facilities Department to assess a wide array of sustainable building attributes. Students work within the Office of Sustainability to support educational programs around our buildings’ sustainable features.
Interpretive signage is installed in campus buildings outlining specific sustainability features, while real time energy information is displayed on the Hawkeye monitors throughout the campus.


Is the institution utilizing its campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in relation to Energy?:
Yes

A brief description of the student/faculty projects and how they contribute to understanding campus sustainability challenges or advancing sustainability on campus in relation to Energy:

Energy Engineering students often work closely with the Facilities Department or Office of Sustainability to pull real-time building energy use data records at various points in the year. As part of a course, they use building plans and utility bill data to assess feasibility of siting a Solar PV array on campus buildings.


Is the institution utilizing its campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in relation to Food & Dining?:
Yes

A brief description of the student/faculty projects and how they contribute to understanding campus sustainability challenges or advancing sustainability on campus in relation to Food & Dining:

UMass Lowell has a vibrant Urban Agriculture Program which involves students and faculty from a wide variety of disciplines and Mill City Grows, a local food justice organization. Faculty in Plastics Engineering and Mechanical Engineering utilize the campus greenhouse to develop research proposals and class projects. Examples include testing a novel biodegradable agricultural film and another for assessing greenhouse heat loads during the winter months.


Is the institution utilizing its campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in relation to Grounds?:
Yes

A brief description of the student/faculty projects and how they contribute to understanding campus sustainability challenges or advancing sustainability on campus in relation to Grounds:

Students work with the Grounds Manager in Facilities to plant trees.
Multiple Tree City and Tree Campus events have taken and continue to take place on campus.
Students engage with the Lowell Parks & Conservation Trust and other external partners to plan joint community activities focused on grounds and sustainable urban greening techniques.
As a result of increasing interst and participation in the UML greenhouse and Urban Agriculture Program, many students wanted to engage on the issue of pollinators. Awarded a S.E.E.D. grant, UMass Lowell installed its first official pollinator garden on our south campus in 2018.


Is the institution utilizing its campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in relation to Purchasing?:
Yes

A brief description of the student/faculty projects and how they contribute to understanding campus sustainability challenges or advancing sustainability on campus in relation to Purchasing:

The campus chapter for the Society for Women Engineers (SWE) ran a Repair Cafe, based off the international Repair Cafe model, through startup funding from a 2018 campus sustainability grant, They used the campus Maker Space to perform a host of free repairs on things like jewelry, electronics, even vehicles, all in an effort to reduce waste going into landfills and most importantly, help the community. Plans are in place to continue this effort and grow it in the future in collaboration with the Office of Sustainability.


Is the institution utilizing its campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in relation to Transportation?:
Yes

A brief description of the student/faculty projects and how they contribute to understanding campus sustainability challenges or advancing sustainability on campus in relation to Transportation:

Numerous students are engaged with ways to reduce the use of single occupancy vehicles on campus. These efforts range from analysis of our on campus transit system, the operation of an on-campus full-service bike shop, and data collection on commuting and transportation for the Office of Sustainability and Facilities Planning.


Is the institution utilizing its campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in relation to Waste?:
Yes

A brief description of the student/faculty projects and how they contribute to understanding campus sustainability challenges or advancing sustainability on campus in relation to Waste:

Students work closely with the Lowell Sustainability Council and regularly serve as full members of the committee. Waste is always a core issue of the committee.
Recently, the Lowell Sustainability Council and its student members supported the City Council in its vote to ban "single-use" plastic bags in large retail stores.
Students also regularly engage with the Office of Sustainability on waste initiatives, ranging from looking for solutions for unique types of campus waste, to managing “move out” programs and managing many of the campus recycling operations for shredded paper and building, room or lab clean-outs or office moves.


Is the institution utilizing its campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in relation to Water?:
Yes

A brief description of the student/faculty projects and how they contribute to understanding campus sustainability challenges or advancing sustainability on campus in relation to Water:

Through a campus sustainability grant, a faculty member saved the university approximately $10,000 annually through the purchase and utilization of 31 super air condensers in organic chemistry undergraduate teaching labs, eliminating the use of 85,000 gallons of water each year.
The campus of UMass Lowell, rooted in a post-industrial city, is surrounded by historic canals and the Merrimack River runs through the campus. Students frequently intern or collaborate with the local Watershed Council, a nonprofit called the Canalwater Cleaners, and the city to protect and clean up around the place they call home during their time on campus.
Through our Outdoor Adventure Program, the university runs a student-run, full-service, boathouse and kayak program on the Merrimack River. It provides valuable public recreational opportunities and a home base for our local crew teams and well as invaluable training for students.


Is the institution utilizing its campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in relation to Coordination & Planning?:
Yes

A brief description of the student/faculty projects and how they contribute to understanding campus sustainability challenges or advancing sustainability on campus in relation to Coordination & Planning:

Students maintain seats in core planning committees related to UMass Lowell’s 2020 Strategic Plan.
All campus sustainability fund S.E.E.D. Grants are awarded and administered through a student-majority committee.
The Student Government Association maintains an active role at the university and is responsible for the large number of free water bottle refill stations on campus and making the university smoke-free, supporting cleaner and healthier air.
Beyond this, members of the SGA and other student leaders serve major roles on committees or steering groups that support the implementation of the Climate Action Plan, parking and transit initiatives on campus and bike issues on campus.


Is the institution utilizing its campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in relation to Diversity & Affordability?:
Yes

A brief description of the student/faculty projects and how they contribute to understanding campus sustainability challenges or advancing sustainability on campus in relation to Diversity & Affordability:

The Office of Multicultural Affairs runs a very successful Diversity Peer Educators program: https://www.uml.edu/student-services/Multicultural/Programs/Diversity-Peer-Educators.aspx


Is the institution utilizing its campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in relation to Investment & Finance?:
Yes

A brief description of the student/faculty projects and how they contribute to understanding campus sustainability challenges or advancing sustainability on campus in relation to Investment & Finance:

Students play an active role on the Board of Trustees at the University System level; each of the campuses has some students present at Board of Trustees meetings ,giving them unique insight into the financial management of the university and each of the campuses’ greater systemic impact. For the UMass System, fiscal sustainability through collaboration across the five campuses is core to the System's business operations.


Is the institution utilizing its campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in relation to Public Engagement?:
Yes

A brief description of the student/faculty projects and how they contribute to understanding campus sustainability challenges or advancing sustainability on campus in relation to Public Engagement:

Public Engagement is a core feature of life here at UMass Lowell. Students work with city government, businesses and community organizations on the annual Lowell Earth Day Parade and Festival and the plans to develop Lowell as a “City of Learning”.


Is the institution utilizing its campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in relation to Wellbeing & Work?:
No

A brief description of the student/faculty projects and how they contribute to understanding campus sustainability challenges or advancing sustainability on campus in relation to Wellbeing & Work:

Recently, through the Office of Student Affairs and the Office of Sustainability, UMass Lowell has been able to work with an organization called GradBag. Items donated after “move out” are collected and cleaned by a non-profit group and brought back to campus to support specific students who need support.
One of the highlight programs on campus is the campus food pantry. It has made a large impact on our student population and the number of students that engage with the organization for work or support continues to grow every year.


Is the institution utilizing its campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in relation to other areas (e.g. arts & culture or technology)?:
Yes

A brief description of the student/faculty projects and how they contribute to understanding campus sustainability challenges or advancing sustainability on campus in relation to other areas:

Beginning back in the late 1970s with Pat Mogan’s vision of Lowell as “an educative city” and its embodiment in the actions that led to that led to the creation of the Lowell National Historical Park

Learning and a sense of sustainability have been built into the core fabric of the City.

America’s First City of Learning?

Given the unique landscape of the city and the numerous institutions that call it home, we are perfectly situated to work to make Lowell a City of Learning. The designation is a formal process through the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). 119 cities across the world hold the official designation and none are in the United States.

Defining a City of Learning

A Learning City is a city which effectively mobilizes its resources in every sector to

promote inclusive learning from basic to higher education;

revitalize learning in families and communities;

facilitate learning for and in the workplace;

extend the use of modern learning technologies;

enhance quality and excellence in learning; and

foster a culture of learning throughout life.

In so doing it will create and reinforce individual empowerment and social cohesion, economic and cultural prosperity, and sustainable development.


The website URL where information about the programs or initiatives is available:
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Additional documentation to support the submission:
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